The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali
Chapter 1 - On Enstasy
Here now begins systematic instruction in techniques of meditative discipline, referred to as “Yoga”.
Yoga is the process of restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness.
Then the observer can know its own true nature.
Otherwise, the observer identifies itself with the fluctuations of consciousness.
There are five kinds of fluctuation, each of which may or may not cause suffering.
They are: right perception, misconception, conceptualization, sleep and memory.
Right perception is based on direct observation, inference or tradition.
Misconception is knowledge that is incorrectly assumed to be true.
Conceptualization comes as a result of verbal knowledge and not direct knowledge of an object.
Sleep is a fluctuation based on the notion of absence of conscious activity.
Memory is the not letting go of, or the recollection of experiences.
Practice and dispassion are required to restrict these fluctuations of consciousness.
Practice refers to the effort of will required to achieve stability in that restricted state.
But this practice becomes firmly grounded only after it has been properly cultivated without interruption for a long time.
Dispassion is mastered when all things outside oneself, be they directly perceived with the senses or conceptually understood, no longer evoke cravings or attachments.
The highest form of this dispassion comes when even the underlying qualities of the material universe cease to evoke craving or attachment and one becomes aware of one’s true self as separate from the material universe.
Reasoning, reflection, joy and a sense of one’s self as a discrete individual all accompany this state of dispassionate awareness.
Those who practice the notion of cessation, or ending, may attain the next state of dispassionate awareness which consists solely of a structure of residue from prior acts in the deep memory.
Those who, instead, practice the notion of becoming, or material existence, will cling to and be dissolved in the primordial material world and will not achieve this deeper form of dispassionate awareness.
Trust in the path, vigor, mindfulness, enstasy and discernment must all be cultivated if one is to achieve this deeper state.
The goal is near for those who practice with extreme intensity.
Thus, there will be a difference if the effort put into practice is mild, moderate or great.
Or the goal can be achieved through devotion to the ideal of the supreme self.
This supreme self is a distinct, extraordinary self untouched by inherent causes of affliction or by action and consequence and the structure of residue that these leave behind in the deep memory.
Embodied in this soul is the unsurpassed source of all knowing.
This timeless example has also been a guide to those who have come before.
It is represented by the sacred syllable “A-U-M”.
Recitation of this syllable leads to becoming steeped in its meaning.
From this develops inwardly-directed awareness. Obstacles disappear.
Sickness, apathy, doubt, negligence, laziness, self-indulgence, delusion, lack of progress and instability in that progress are distractions of consciousness. These are the obstacles.
Pain, depression, unsteadiness of the body and breath are accompanying distractions.
In order to prevent these distractions, practice one of the following principles.
Consciousness settles as a result of projecting friendliness, compassion, delight and equanimity towards all things, be they joyful, sorrowful, noble or base.
Or as a result of focusing on the exhalation of the breath and the pause before the following inhalation.
Or as a result of focusing the mind steadily on the perception of the senses.
Or as a result of contemplating sorrowless and illuminating thoughts.
Or as a result of contemplating those who have conquered attachment.
Or as a result of contemplating insights drawn from sleep and dreams.
Or as a result of any form of meditative absorption, as desired.
Mastery over the mind can be achieved even as it contemplates the most minute object to objects of the greatest magnitude.
As fluctuations of consciousness diminish, consciousness itself becomes like a transparent jewel. With regards to the observer (the grasper), the act of perception (the grasping) and the perceived object (the grasped), observer and object become the same.
As long as there is conceptual knowledge based on words and their meaning, this state of consciousness is called coincidence with thought.
When the deep memory becomes purified, when it is empty of all latent impulses, the object can be perceived as it is, without distortion. This state is called coincidence beyond thought.
When subtle objects are the focus, the two states of consciousness are similarly named: as coincidence with reflection and coincidence beyond reflection.
These subtle objects lead back to the undifferentiated substance of the primordial material universe.
These four states of consciousness – coincidence with thought and beyond thought, with reflection and beyond reflection – are called enstasy with seed.
Lucidity in the state of coincidence beyond reflection is called clarity of inner being.
In this state, insight brings absolute truth.
The nature of this insight is different from that derived by tradition and inference because of its special significance.
The residue in deep memory born from this insight obstructs all others.
When this deep residue is also restrained, it is called enstasy without seed.
(Excerpt from "Practicing Freedom: The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali" by Witold Fitz-Simon, $14.95, available now from amazon.com or from the store.)